John's Journal
Visiting Schools And Students, Talking About Journalism10/11/2012
I often tell people how much I enjoy my job. I’m a sports fan and a storyteller, so traveling around Minnesota and sharing positive stories of high school activities is a wonderful way to go.

Another part of my job is meeting high school students who are interested in journalism. Most of them have heard me tell the story of how I got started: my own high school English teacher, the beloved Mrs. White, gave me the opportunity to write about the teams in my school for our local weekly newspaper. That spark was lit when I was a sophomore in high school and it continues to burn brightly. It has taken me through college, through five newspaper jobs in three states and coverage of youth, amateur, college and professional sports.

One of my missions when I was hired by the MSHSL in March 2010 was creating a program to give young journalists opportunities similar to what I had when I was their age. Thus we have the MSHSL Student Media program, which is very similar to what I did as a teenager. I wrote stories for my local weekly paper; students who are part of this program write stories for their school’s page here on mshsl.org. (You can read about the program by scrolling to the bottom of mshsl.org and clicking on the "Student Media" link.)

This has been a great week for me, because I have spent a lot of time with aspiring journalists. On Monday I drove west on Interstate 94 to Monticello High School, where I met with a Mass Communications class taught by Robby McGuire. A few students walked into the classroom, saw me and asked, “Are you a sub?” No, I’m your guest speaker. I had a great time talking about journalism with the students and answering their questions.

I then met with three Monticello ninth-graders who are interested in the Student Media program. I talked with Tim Witzmann, Nathan Mayer and Parker Gorecki in the office of athletic/activities director Gary Revenig. The boys were enthusiastic as I explained how the program works, and I know we’ll see great things from them.

On Tuesday I attended the Minnesota High School Press Association state convention at the University of Minnesota’s Coffman Memorial Union. I was a workshop presenter, talking to a large number of students on “Sports Reporting From Preps to Pros.” We talked about the great and not-so-great things about the life of a sports reporter, whether the beat is high school or professional sports. The kids asked great questions and I encouraged them to keep in touch with me.

Another school visit was on my agenda Thursday. This time I went south on Interstate 35 to Medford. Most people who regularly travel on that stretch of I-35 probably know Medford as the home of a McDonald’s and an outlet mall. I had never driven into the town of Medford until Thursday. My route meandered through the small town to the school, located on the eastern edge of Medford.

It’s a great place, with K-12 students all attending school in the same modern complex built in 2003. Principal Jeff Sampson welcomed me before taking me to the classroom of English teacher Kelley Ungerecht. She teaches a specialized class called Media Writing, and the students are sophomore Tylor Holmquist, sophomore Benito Mora-Flores and junior Dakota Jones.

Since it was a small group, the students received some goodies (MSHSL pens and notebooks, etc.). I gave them Student Media credentials, which allow them free access to high school events when they are working as reporters. I showed them photos of students who have attended Timberwolves and Twins games with me as credentialed members of the media, and I explained how the Student Media program works. We also looked at John’s Journal, the MSHSL Facebook page and Twitter. The hour went very quickly.

Mr. Sampson then gave me a tour of the school. Medford is the home of the Tigers, and there are Tiger logos all over the place. One sign that doesn’t include a Tiger does carry these words: Respectful, Proud, Responsible. That pretty much says it all about Medford and the rest of the schools in our great state.

--To see photo galleries from Monticello and Medford, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 199
*Miles John has driven: 3,208
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn
Old Dutch High School Student Athlete of the Week10/9/2012
The winner of this week's award is Goodhue senior football player Dillon Huemann.

The senior had 233 yards rushing on 24 carries and scored five touchdowns in a 52-17 victory at Kenyon-Wanamingo on Friday. Dillon is a workhorse running back who averages 24 carries a game despite being only 5-8 and 140 pounds. He also starts at safety and only leaves the field for kickoffs.

Dillon is a team captain for the football team, as well as captain for basketball and baseball. Off the field Dillon has been involved in Youth Group, which serves as a community service and clean-up organization. He also has donated his time as a volunteer coach in football, basketball and baseball, helping out at camps, after-school practices and Saturday leagues. Dillon has been active in the school’s student leadership and mentorship programs, as well as helping our custodial staff an hour each day through student service.

Congratulations to Dillon and all of this season's winners!
Buffalo ’52: A Team That Never Lost, Never Gave Up A Point10/7/2012
In 1952 a gallon of gas cost 20 cents and the Korean War and Cold War were in full swing. The United States successfully detonated the first hydrogen bomb that year, the TV show “Dragnet” premiered on NBC (for the one in three American homes that had a television), nearly 58,000 cases of polio were reported in the U.S. and shortly after the high school football season ended, Dwight Eisenhower was elected president.

So what hasn’t changed since 1952? Well, a member of the royal family is now in the 60th year of her reign as Queen Elizabeth and the 1952 Buffalo High School football team remains a Minnesota legend.

The 1952 Bison played eight games, winning seven and having one end in a scoreless tie. The most remarkable statistic is this: They did not give up a point all season.

“Sixty years is a long time,” said Richard Mills as he smiled and remembered. Mills, a junior left halfback in 1952, was standing in the gymnasium at Buffalo High School on Friday, where 13 members of the ’52 team – and one cheerleader -- were guests of honor. The gym was packed with students for the Homecoming pepfest, and the kids roared as the old Bison were introduced one by one and escorted into the gym by current players. The 1952 players wore matching commemorative purple t-shirts with their numbers on the back.

“I’m both honored to be here and blessed to be here,” said Don Houston, who was a junior right end in 1952. “When you see what’s happened to some of the people, I’m very fortunate to be where I’m at and I hope the best for all these kids that are coming up.”

The ’52 Bison are gray-haired grandpas and some get around with the help of walkers, but the memories flow. They rolled to the Wright County Conference championship, beating Maple Lake 28-0, Monticello 6-0, Howard Lake 46-0, Dassel 32-0, Delano 26-0, Cokato 13-0 and Annandale 19-0, along with the 0-0 tie with Kimball in the penultimate game. There were no overtimes or playoffs in those days, and the Bison of 60 years ago are believed to be one of the few teams in Minnesota history that never gave up a point.

“The only time anybody just about scored against us was a guy standing in the end zone, they threw him a pass with nobody around him and it went right through his hands,” Mills said. “I think that was the only time anybody even came close to scoring on us all year.”

The ’52 players were also honored at Friday night’s Homecoming game against Moorhead. On a cold and windy evening, they were served a pregame dinner inside a heated tent at the football field. They posed for photos, traded stories and were introduced individually before the game, escorted once more by current players as they walked onto the field.

Most of them were farm boys in the 1950s, and some attended country schools before coming into town for their high school years. Farm chores were a priority and football was a simple game.

“Before a football game I went home and milked the cows and fed the cows,” said Warren Krause, a sophomore right guard in 1952. "One thing I thought was interesting: we were not allowed to eat before football games. And there was no water provided on the field. I never recall anybody fainting or anything.”

Houston married his high school sweetheart, Gerrie, (pictured) who was a cheerleader in 1952 and joined the football players for the weekend reunion. The Houstons have spent their lives in Buffalo, as have several of the ’52 Bison.

“A lot of them live quite a ways away, but quite often we talk on the phone,” Don Houston said. “We’ve had good memories with this whole crew. It’s very interesting to see how they have changed over the years. It’s a good thing we have name tags.”

Most of the football players also played basketball and baseball in high school. “If you were an athlete you played everything,” Houston said. “We didn’t have track, we didn’t have hockey, we didn’t have a lot of sports.”

Other than four years of college, Krause also remained a Buffalo resident. He had an older brother who played Bison football and two sons who did the same. And this season, one of the 2012 seniors is his grandson, Andrew Krause.

Andrew, a lineman, knows all about his grandpa’s football history.

“He’s told me a lot of stories,” Andrew said. “Back when I started playing football as a little kid, my grandpa told me how he played on the Buffalo Bison football team. He could brag that his team was undefeated and unscored-upon, and it’s a great honor to fulfill. I’m very proud that I have that legacy behind me.”

--To see a photo gallery of the 1952 team, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 187
*Miles John has driven: 3,064
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn